Oracle, Compaq Team Up on Net Appliances

Oracle Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp. are collaborating on an Net appliance which is due to appear next month through distribution partners, Larry Ellison, Oracle chairman and chief executive officer announced here Monday at his keynote address and during an earlier press conference.

The Net appliance will be based on Oracle 9i Application Server and Compaq's ProLiant DL360 ultra-thin two-way server. The idea behind the device is that it will arrive on customers' doorsteps with its hardware and software preconfigured, pretested and preinstalled, according to Ellison.

At the moment, the appliance is aimed at "very small customers," but over time the device should be able to be used in large operations such as Oracle itself, Ellison said. He expects Oracle will start running the appliances within its own organization within the next few months, with the company fully embracing the devices in "a year or so," he added.

The appliance uses what Ellison dubbed an "anonymous operating system," though he did reveal it incorporates pieces of Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris Unix operating and a version of the Linux open-source operating system. Ellison kept jabbing at Oracle's bitter rival Microsoft Corp., claiming that not even IBM Corp.'s MVS legacy operating system has as many lines of code as Microsoft's Windows 2000.

Ellison continued his age-old mantra of how the PC industry is the only one that permits such a degree of uniqueness that no system setup is the same as any other, making it difficult to support the devices. He claimed that every vendor, with one notable exception, is moving all their software away from the PC to the server. "The PC has morphed into a network appliance plus (Microsoft) Office," Ellison said. "The only thing keeping the PC alive is games." He explained the only reason why he continues to use a PC is to enable him to open Microsoft Word attachments he receives via e-mail.

Sun and Hewlett-Packard Co. are likely to shortly make similar Net appliances with Oracle, according to Ellison.

Oracle, in Redwood Shores, California, can be reached at +1-650-506-7000 or via the Internet at http://www.oracle.com/.

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